Perhaps the most telling stat of Thomas Tuchel’s first month in charge of Chelsea is that the Blues have only conceded two goals in those eight games (and one of those was an own goal). In Chelsea club history, only José Mourinho can say that he did better, at the start of his (first) tenure back in 2004-05.
In fact, that own goal is the only difference between the two managers’ basic records through their first eight games: Mourinho won 6, drew 2, scoring 10 and conceding 1; Tuchel’s won 6, drawn 2, scoring 10 and conceding 2.
2 - Thomas Tuchel has conceded just two goals in eight games as Chelsea manager; in the club's history, the only coach to concede fewer goals after eight games in charge is José Mourinho (one). Masterclass. pic.twitter.com/fkvHRIwEfT— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 23, 2021
That’s not to say that Tuchel’s guaranteed to emulate Mourinho’s dynasty-building ways of nearly two decades ago now, but his approach certainly echoes Mourinho’s approach in many ways (while also echoing aspects of Conte and Sarri as well).
The primary objective is to make Chelsea hard to beat. Can’t lose if you don’t concede, after all! And only once that’s done can we start focusing on finding balance and improving other phases of our play.
“I think it is not a pleasure to play against us but the picture is not finished. There’s still a long way to go and we have a lot of things to improve on. This is a good message and good news.
“There’s no other way than to stay hungry and improve every day. We need to do this as there’s a lot of things to improve. I can clearly feel the attitude and energy on the pitch that we have a strong bond, that we have strong competitors in our group. That makes us hard to beat.”
This Chelsea side is a mere shadow of those legendary teams in the mid-oughts at this point, but the focus is improving the collective by improving the individual parts and then putting them together into something even greater than the sum of their parts.
In 2004, Arjen Robben’s debut and return from injury in match number thirteen helped elevate Chelsea from grinding out narrow wins to blowing opponents away and becoming a relentless winning machine.
Can Tuchel find his Robben soon as well — Havertz maybe? — and do something similar now? If he can cultivate the belief of can’t-lose in the team while keeping everyone happy or at least in line in the meantime, he just might.
“I feel strongly that football is a team effort. That you can be more than just eleven individuals or 16-18 individuals as a squad. This is what we want to create and to focus on besides tactics, technical and tricks that you can invent or not.
“The most important thing is that we have a strong group and this is the mentality that we feel on the sidelines when I coach the team, when I observe the matches. This is the best feeling we can have. We are in a good way but it is not finished.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: Football.London
A massive test against Manchester United awaits today amid what could be a potentially season-defining run of fixtures. We’re certainly going to need all the players to perform at their best individually, and then together as something even greater than just the sum of their parts.